The Top 50 Trumpaus From The Atlantic

The Atlantic has done a series that I found to be both comprehensive and interesting.  What they did was … well, I’ll let Jeff Goldberg, Editor in Chief tell you …

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.

Our 2016 editorial was a repudiation of Donald Trump’s character as much as it was an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. It was not meant to be partisan. The Atlantic’s founders promised their readers that we would be “of no party or clique.” This remains a core governing principle of the magazine today. What follows is a catalog of incidents, ranked—highly subjectively!—according to both their outlandishness and their importance. In most any previous presidency, Democratic or Republican, each moment on this list would have been unthinkable.

There are 50 articles in the series, and while I have not read them all, the ones I have read are spot-on.  I list them here, with links, so you can decide which, if any, you would like to read.  Click on any title to go directly to it … all links will open in a separate tab:

  1. Children are taken from their parents and incarcerated
  2. “Very fine people on both sides”
  3. The president still hasn’t released his tax returns
  4. Putin and Trump talk without chaperones
  5. James Comey is fired
  6. Trump declares war on black athletes
  7. Trump picks the wrong countries for his travel ban
  8. The president calls his porn-star ex-paramour “horseface”
  9. Covfefe
  10. “I have the absolute right to pardon myself”
  11. Trump throws paper towels at Puerto Ricans
  12. A new term enters the presidential lexicon: “shithole countries”
  13. Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford to a cheering crowd
  14. You know you’re in a constitutional crisis when…
  15. The CIA dead become a TV prop
  16. Public humiliation comes for everyone in the White House
  17. Trump threatens to press his “nuclear button”
  18. The president lies constantly
  19. The president learns about the Justice Department
  20. The president learns about separation of powers
  21. Rain stops Trump from honoring the dead
  22. The UN General Assembly laughs at the president
  23. America gets a first daughter
  24. The president can’t stop talking about carnage
  25. “We’re gonna have the cleanest air”
  26. Trump helps the Saudis cover up a murder
  27. Turkish agents assault protesters near the White House
  28. Trump tweets the wisdom of Mussolini
  29. The president tries to kick transgender service members out of the military
  30. The buck stops over there
  31. The White House punishes a CNN reporter for asking questions
  32. Trump disseminates Soviet propaganda
  33. The chief justice of the United States corrects the president
  34. Trump leads the country to the longest government shutdown in American history
  35. Mueller’s “witch hunt” is good at finding witches
  36. Trump threatens to strip security clearances from his critics
  37. The president just wants to go home
  38. Trump holds a top secret confab on the Mar-a-Lago dining terrace
  39. A White House economist creates facts for the president
  40. The president’s most trusted adviser is his own gut
  41. Trump waits 19 months to pick his science adviser
  42. The first president to complain about an election he won
  43. The nation loses its consoler in chief
  44. The WikiLeaks president goes silent
  45. A name-calling feud ends with the secretary of state’s ouster by tweet
  46. Trump tells the Boy Scouts about a hot New York party
  47. An overcompensating press secretary lies about crowd size
  48. The president praises the congressman who body-slammed a reporter
  49. A Cabinet officer likes private planes too much
  50. Donald Trump touches the magic orb

Au Revoir, General James Mattis 😢

Yesterday, the world became a little less safe.  U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, announced his resignation effective 28 February 2019.  It is understandable, and nobody could possibly blame him, for his has been a thankless job since the day he took office, January 20th 2017.  Mattis has disagreed with Trump on many things during his nearly two-year tenure, from climate change to Russia to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.  But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the remaining 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria.  I don’t blame General Mattis for finally saying, “I’ve had enough of this mess” … don’t blame him at all.  But with his departure, the world … not just the U.S., but the entire world … became less safe.

Here are some of the more pertinent parts from the General’s letter of resignation:

  • I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.

  • One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.


  • My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.


  • We must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.

The threat of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and also Afghanistan is a disaster on so many levels, not the least of which being that it is a proverbial slap-in-the-face to our allies in Europe.  As the UK’s Middle East minister, Alistair Burt said …

“There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood – vital any successor agrees.”

And UK’s Defense Minister, Tobias Ellwood …

“The most impressive military mind I’ve had the honour to know. Jim my friend – our world will be less safe without you.”

The co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt had strong words …

“A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European parliament, said…

“A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable – and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood.”

Neither the Syrian withdrawal nor the prospect of cutting troop numbers in Afghanistan were preceded by any serious consultation with his European allies, many of whom either have ground troops or air forces operating in both countries.

Trump’s selection of Mattis for Defense Secretary was, presumably, because he believed Mattis had the knowledge and experience to be a key advisor on foreign policy and matters of defense.  So why does he consistently ignore the advice of this very knowledgeable man?  Ego, pure and simple.  And that very ego is likely, if left unchecked, to have a number of very serious consequences for the world.  The Middle East is a tinderbox that could well turn into an inferno in short order.  Our allies may well determine they are finished with this alliance and to hell with the U.S.  Who could blame them?

It is said that Trump made the decision to pull out of Syria after a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, who is planning an attack on Kurdish troops in Syria at some point in the near future.  According to Senator Lindsey Graham …

“What Turkey is going to do is unleash holy hell on the Kurds. In the eyes of Turkey, they’re more of a threat than ISIS. So this decision is a disaster.”

Vladimir Putin was also pleased, saying he agreed with the decision.  But, of course.

Even most conservatives are horrified at the thought of Mattis’ resignation, considering it to be the loss of the last adult in the house.  Neo-conservative editor and political analyst Bill Kristol said it best …

“Never been more alarmed for the nation since coming to DC over three decades ago.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse expressed deep concern …

“This is a sad day. General Mattis was giving advice [Trump] needs to hear. Mattis rightly believes that Russia & China are adversaries. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan weighed in …

“Okay, Republicans. How much longer are you going to let this farcical ‘presidency’ continue? At a time of such political, economic, and geo-strategic turbulence – both nationally and globally – are you waiting for a catastrophe to happen before acting? Disaster looms!”

Remember when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “f**king moron”?  He was right.

General Mattis’ departure did not come as a surprise, for the rumour mill has predicted it for a while now but make no mistake … it is a devastating blow, not only for the United States, but for the world.  Nobody can predict where we go from here, for there is a thoroughly unpredictable madman at the helm of this ship.  In light of Trump’s comment this morning that he is willing to keep the government shut down “for a very long time”, and his reckless decisions regarding Syria and Afghanistan, today I can no longer consider myself a citizen of what was once a respectable nation.  I believe it is time for serious calls for Trump’s removal from office, else next year at this time the world may look much different than it does today – and not in any good way.

Au Revoir, General Mattis … you will be missed.

On Draining the ‘Swamp’ …

swamp-1Remember back in 2015-2016, that long, ugly, disgusting, tiresome campaign Trump conducted?  Yeah, who could forget, right, especially since he doesn’t seem to realize that the 2016 election has ended and the campaign is over, so he keeps holding more and more of his really crappy rallies where he still has his minions chanting “Lock her up!”, even though they have forgotten who it was he wanted locked up.  One of the many things that he spent that year-and-a-half (have I mentioned that it was a very looooooong year-and-a-half?) shoving down people’s throats was how he was going to “drain the swamp”, a euphemism for getting rid of corruption in the federal government.  Well, we now know, thanks to Kellyanne Conway, that Trump uses a different dictionary, a different vocabulary than we do, called ‘alternative facts’, and that by ‘drain the swamp’, what he really meant was he was planning to bring in much more lethal, corrupt, greedy, criminal gators ‘n crocs.

One of my favourite comedians, John Oliver, has applied his own special brand of humour to the notion of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, and it is worth a watch … both educational and humorous …

Thank you, John!swamp-4

New White House H.R. Director …

melania-2Allow me to introduce the new White House Director of Human Resources … Melania Trump!  Yes, folks, Melania is now in charge, it would appear of decisions regarding employees of this administration.

mira ricardelMira Ricardel is a deputy national security advisor who has served in a number of positions during her career.  Earlier in the Trump administration, she served as a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel, and then Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. Earlier in her career, she served as a foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Dole and held higher-level positions in the U.S. Department of Defense during the Presidency of George W. Bush. On April 23, 2018, new U.S. National Security Advisor John R. Bolton named her as his incoming deputy. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Melania wants her fired.  But why???

Who knows?  It is said that when Melania wasted spent taxpayer money to travel to the African continent last month, the two women quarreled – some say over the seating arrangement on the plane, while others have differing explanations.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Melania, without evidence, believes that Ms. Ricardel was behind some of the negative stories about her.  Oh yes … silly me … I forgot that Melania is “the most bullied person in the world” or some such nonsense.

She also reportedly clashes with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis over “staffing decisions and policy differences”.  WHOA … wait just a minute there … Melania isn’t the policy-maker here!  We The People did not elect Melania!  Well, in truth, we didn’t elect her husband, either, but at least his name was on the ballot … I did not see Melania’s anywhere, did you?  But to the point … why would she even be putting her two-cents worth in on policy issues???  She’s a former nude model and as far as I know does not hold a degree in political science or foreign policy!  But then … neither does her husband. Oh, my head!!!

So … yesterday, Melania’s ‘office’ (why does she need an ‘office’ when she doesn’t do a damn thing?) released the following statement …

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

I dislike John Bolton … immensely, in fact.  But, if there are issues with Ms. Ricardel, they are Bolton’s to work out, to decide on a course of action, not Donald Trump’s and most assuredly not Melania’s.  Has anybody in this administration ever heard the term “chain of command”?  And firing a member of the National Security Council because the prez’ wife didn’t like the seating arrangements on an airplane???  What the heck kind of Banana Republic has this nation turned into???

It was hard enough trying to keep up with one blathering, ignorant, narcissistic fool in the White House, but now we have at least two to worry about?  Where is ‘due process’?  Where is ‘chain of command’?  Where is … where is democracy?  Where is the idea that we elect people with the expectation that they will act in the best interest of the nation and its people?  Instead, we have a whiny bitch married to an incompetent president and between them they are calling all the shots.  What could possibly go wrong?

Another … sigh … Trumptian Terror

On Wednesday, the day after the mid-term elections, Donald Trump demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  We all knew it was coming, and I think others will follow. While I have no love for Jeff Sessions, who is a proven racist, I am greatly disturbed by his termination.  With Sessions gone, the door is open to either terminate or stifle the Mueller investigation.  The Mueller investigation is no ‘witch hunt’, as Trump has claimed, but I strongly suspect has uncovered scandal and corruption beyond what we can even imagine.  Methinks Mr. Trump doth protest far too much, and his claims of innocence are a joke … a bad joke.

Let us take a look at the man who will be serving as a temporary replacement for Session.

Matthew-whitakerHis name is Matthew Whitaker.  He is an attorney with a rather unremarkable career thus far, his biggest ‘claim to fame’ being that he has run for public office three times … and lost ‘bigly’ two of the three.  Whitaker ran as a Republican for Treasurer of Iowa in 2002 and lost by 12%.  He ran for the Iowa Senate seat vacated by Tom Harkin in 2014 but came in only 4th in the republican primary with less than 8% of the votes.  After the 2014 loss, he became a paid advisory board member for a company called World Patent Marketing, a fraudulent business based in Florida that deceived inventors into thinking that the company had successfully commercialized other inventions.  The company was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2017.

In September of 2017, Whitaker was appointed to be Jeff Sessions’ Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice.  The month before, he wrote an opinion column for CNN titled “Mueller’s Investigation of Trump is Going Too Far.”  His premise was that the Mueller investigation should be limited and should not probe into Trump’s finances.  And in June 2017, three months before becoming Chief of Staff, he said publicly …

“I also think, you know, we have another hearing in front of Congress where there is no evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Democrats continue to conflate the collusion issue, which there is no evidence of, with, with the fact that Russians did try to interfere with the election.”

His views on the Mueller investigation are high priority and would take an entire post to discuss, and while that is the most urgent issue that he will likely face in the coming two months, there are others that are equally appalling.  Let’s take a look at a few …

  • On gun control“The mass shootings we’ve seen in our country have been often times and always executed by mentally ill individuals who those laws never would’ve impacted in the first place. So I don’t think infringing on Second Amendment rights will prevent those types of events.”  Right-o … why bother to try to save a few thousand lives every month … they aren’t your lives, after all!

  • On climate change“I think the evidence is inconclusive, but there may be a human component to global warming. But that’s very small and it may be part of the natural warming or cooling of the planet. I’m certainly not a climate expert, but I don’t believe in Cap and Trade or those types of regulations that try to hamstring the U.S. economy as other countries continue to put carbon into the air. I don’t believe in big government solutions to a problem that doesn’t appear to be that significant or quite possibly isn’t man made.”  Yeah, again … what’s a few million lives as long as they aren’t yours?


  • On education“I think the Department of Education should be disbanded and the resources either returned to the taxpayers or put into the schools. Bureaucrats in Washington D.C. shouldn’t know how to better educate my kids than I do.”  Heh heh heh … like you’ve shown yourself to be so bloomin’ smart???  🤣🤣🤣


  • On marriage“I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. Throughout history it’s traditionally been up to the churches and to God to define that. I don’t have an omnibus solution. Certainly it’s affecting all sorts of parts of our country. Here in the state of Iowa we can’t even get our elected officials to do anything about it and that’s really frustrating. It’s affecting our military. There are chaplains in the military under a lot of pressure to go against their religious beliefs.”  Bigot.  Homophobe.


  • On federal judges“I’d like to see things like their worldview, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important. And what I know is as long as they have that worldview, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular worldview, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.” Hey Jerkface … every hear of separation of church and state???  Has anyone ever told you that this is a SECULAR government???

Add to that he has indicated his belief that Social Security is unconstitutional and that basic labor laws like the minimum wage must be struck down.

In an interesting twist yesterday, a number of prominent attorneys including none other than George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, have claimed that it is illegal for Trump to appoint Whitaker as acting Attorney General because he is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  Don’t hyperventilate over this one, folks.

Under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, otherwise known as the “appointments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, a principal officer, that is one who reports only to the president, must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.  Legally, I agree with Mr. Conway and the others, but … this is the reign of Trump, where Trump considers himself above the law, and the relevant people in Congress and the Supreme Court have upheld his lawlessness more than once.  And the bottom line is that if Trump is forced to bring Whitaker before the Senate to confirm his nomination … well, need I say more?  It will mean not much more than a delay of a few days.  Remember Brett Kavanaugh?

Ambassador WHO??? WHAT??? WHY???

It costs a $200,000 initiation fee to be a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Florida.  Annual dues are $14,000 per year.  I was considering joining, but I came up a bit short … quite a bit short, actually.  Point being, only the rich waste that much money for hedonistic ‘pleasure’, if it can be called such.  Really, I would have to take it a step further and say that only the mindless wealthy who don’t realize how many starving people in the world could eat for a year for the money they throw away just for the ‘privilege’ of eating a steak, swimming in a pool, hob-knobbing with other mindless rich people, and perhaps seeing Donald Trump in person.  It is naught but a tacky status symbol.

One of those mindless wealthy is this woman …Lara Marks.pngWho in the Sam Heck would wear that abominable dress with all those frills and frou-frou???  Her name is Lana Marks.  See all those ugly purses, pocketbooks, handbags … whatever you wish to call them … on the table in front of her?  She ‘designed’ those.  Take a gander at the top of her website .

handbagsYep, folks, for only $20,000 you can own one of these ugly things.  Actually, I am told that some actually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the most expensive going for $400,000!  To add to the abomination, her products are made of alligator skin … alligators were killed to make this bimbo rich!!!  And people buy these?  While other people go hungry?  Oh, my poor head!

alligator baby

Please don’t turn me into a purse?

But back to Ms. Marks … she is somewhat less than an honest person, as I suspect is the case with most members of Mar-a-Lago.

“I did ballet with the Royal Academy of Ballet’s South African affiliate in East London. I started my tennis career in East London. I have played in Wimbledon, the French, and South African Open.”

Turns out, there is no record of her ever playing in any of those tennis matches, and when questioned, her memory was hazy as to who she had played against, and even the year or years she played.  I am pretty sure that if you played at Wimbledon, you remember the exact date! But her dishonesty doesn’t end there.  According to the Palm Beach Daily News …

“Marks has repeatedly been accused of stiffing her attorneys, accountants, landlords and employees. She is also embroiled in bitter, international legal battles in South Africa and Israel with her siblings over a family trust and the care for their 89-year-old mother.”

Whoa … back up a minute — “… stiffing her attorneys, accountants, landlords and employees.”  Who, I ask you, does this remind us of???  Exactly … none other than the snake in the Oval Office, Donald Trump!

All of which explains why he is reportedly planning to nominate Marks to be the next U.S. ambassador to South Africa!  Granted, Marks was born in South Africa, however she has not returned there for at least 40 years, and if being born in South Africa qualifies her for the ambassadorship, it is the only thing that does!  She does not have a college education, has no experience in foreign policy, no government experience.  All she has ever done is draw purses and live the ‘lifestyle of the rich and famous’.

The ambassadorship to South Africa has been vacant since 2016 after Patrick Gaspard’s resignation. It is not one of the most challenging or demanding ambassadorships, however it is a bit more so since Donald Trump took office and called South Africa one of those “shithole countries”.  Then, he later added insult to injury when he instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” alleged land seizures from white farmers in South Africa. The issue is racially divisive almost a quarter-century after the end of apartheid, the system of white minority rule, and Trump is woefully ignorant of the politics of South Africa.  It appears his information comes from white nationalist groups and he didn’t bother to look for facts.  Who knows … perhaps Sean Hannity fed him the false information.  Former ambassador Gaspard said of the situation …

“The President of the US needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of ‘large scale killings of farmers.’  This man … has no discernible Africa policy.”

At any rate, while relations between the U.S. and South Africa have not been particularly contentious in the past, they may be becoming more so unless Trump can reign in his ignorance, and it might pay to have a real human being, one who understands the political, cultural, and economic situation in the country, rather than a rich bimbo who lacks honesty and integrity.

ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to be considering Marks’ appointment.  He would be justified in declining to have Ms. Marks in his country and demand somebody who at least understands his country.  Likely the position would remain unfilled if that were to happen, but under Trump, perhaps that is for the best.  If President Ramaphosa doesn’t nix the appointment, hopefully the U.S. Senate will have enough savvy to decline to confirm her.  Then again … if she is confirmed, it might save the lives of a few alligators.


under construction**Note to readers:  I will be working over the next few days on adding an archive to this blog.  It seems that I will need to make some changes to the theme, so please bear with me if my posts appear a bit messy while the site is ‘under construction’.  Thank you!

The Kavanaugh Circus

The Kavanaugh confirmation process has dominated the headlines for a couple of weeks now, and that is precisely why it has not dominated this blog.  I prefer to look behind the scenes, to find the news that is hidden by the smoke and mirrors of whatever is front-and-center.  But today I am compelled to address a couple of things pertaining to this three-ring-circus, for it has turned into a nightmare for most of us.  Kavanaugh must not be confirmed.  He has shown that he has neither the temperament nor the integrity to sit on the bench of any court, let alone the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.  But this post is not about Kavanaugh, his dishonesty, or his childish temper tantrums.  This is about two of the three rings of this circus …


The Measure of a Man

Senator Jeff Flake earned high marks for calling for an FBI investigation into the subject of Kavanaugh’s possible abuse of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and another woman, Debbie Ramirez. He stated that, while he had voted for the Kavanaugh nomination to be moved to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote, he would not vote unless there was an investigation.  For this, he received many kudos.  My own thoughts were that if he truly felt the Kavanaugh nomination was in doubt, he should not have voted to move it into the full senate, but he did, and therefore I offered no pats on the back, no ‘Attaboy’.

My thoughts were confirmed last night in a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley, where Flake and democratic Senator Chris Coons told about the discussion(s) that led to Flake’s request for an FBI investigation.  Pelley asked perhaps the most important question in the 13-minute interview:

Pelley:  Senator Flake, you’ve announced that you’re not running for re-election, and I wonder … could you have done this if you were running?

Flake:  No, not a chance …

Pelley:  Not a chance? Because politics has become too sharp?  Too partisan?

Flake:  Yeah, there’s no value to reaching across the aisle.  There’s no currency for that anymore, and there’s no incentive.

There’s no incentive, no value, to doing the right thing for the nation, for the people who voted him into office and whose hard-earned tax dollars pay his salary.  Take a few minutes to think about that one, folks, because your own representatives in Congress feel the same.  In fact, Flake is one of the better ones, and that speaks volumes.

So, now that you’ve processed that, do you still want to high-five Mr. Flake?  Still want to praise him as a man who followed his conscience?


FOUL!!!

Once Senators Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski said they could not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without an FBI investigation, it left Trump with no real choice but to order said investigation.  So, on Friday afternoon, he did just that.  BUT …

The investigation he ordered is extremely limited in both scope and timing, to the point that it is likely to be a sham of an investigation.  First, Trump gave the FBI only until next Friday to complete the investigation.  Then, the White House counsel’s office under Don McGahn gave the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview.  FBI investigators caution that such a limited scope may make it difficult to pursue additional leads.

There are other constraints as well.  Investigators plan to meet with Mark Judge, a high school classmate and friend of Kavanaugh’s whom Ford named as a witness and participant to her alleged assault. But the FBI cannot ask the supermarket that employed Judge for records verifying when he was employed there.  The FBI will also not be able to examine why Kavanaugh’s account of his drinking at Yale University differs from those of some former classmates, who have said he was known as a heavy drinker.

And while the investigators will be looking into the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau is not to be permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.

All of these limitations and constraints amount to tying the hands of the FBI, and make it less likely that the truth will be discovered in less than a week.  However, Trump claims that the FBI has “free reign” …

“They’re going to do whatever they have to do. Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing — things that we never even thought of. And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”

Such an eloquent speaker, eh?  And such a smart man, saying, “Whatever it is they do …”

At this point, there is nothing left to be done, it would seem, but wait and see.  We must hope that the FBI agents in charge are wise enough and dedicated enough to dig deeply and work quickly.  Then we must hope that there is no monkey business, that the results are clear and not swept under the rug.  Bets, anyone?


Kavanaugh

NOT the man I want on the bench

As I have said to a few friends, if Kavanaugh is confirmed and takes his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, we might as well hang coloured streamers, balloons, paint clown faces on the Supreme Court Building and sell peanuts in the entrance hall, for it will have lost its dignity and turned into a circus where partisanship reigns and justice is not to be found.

Who Will Be Next To Go?

It seems a foregone conclusion that Jeff Sessions’ job is likely to be toast shortly after the November mid-term elections, and it isn’t surprising, since Trump has been threatening him almost daily since he rightly recused himself from the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.  But there is another head that’s likely to be on the chopping block after the mid-terms and this one needs to be taken seriously as well.

More and more, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is coming under fire from Trump.  I’ll go into some of the reasons in a minute, but Jeff Davis, who recently retired from the U.S. Navy after serving as a spokesman for the defense secretary sums it up, I think, in two sentences:

“Secretary Mattis lives by a code that is part of his DNA. He is genetically incapable of lying, and genetically incapable of disloyalty.”

He is, at the very core, the exact opposite of Donald Trump.

The probably firing of Mattis has absolutely nothing to do with Mattis’ job performance.  According to Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee …

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job. His departure would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”

But Donald Trump’s first priority when it comes to his staff is not whether the person is qualified, but whether he or she is loyal.  Which is not to say that Jim Mattis is not loyal, for he is, but his loyalty is to his country, not to the man-child who makes decisions based on almost anything except logic.  One of the problems, according to a number of people, is that Mattis is frequently referred to as “the adult in the room”, indicating that in the chaos of this administration and amid the temper tantrums of the ‘man’ in the Oval Office, Mattis’ is the voice of reason.

When Trump, for no apparent reason, announced via tweets that trans-gender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, Mattis announced that trans-gender service members will continue to be allowed to serve pending the results of a study.Trump-MattisWhen Trump demanded that military families no longer be allowed to accompany service members deployed to South Korea, Mattis refused, saying it could be seen by North Korea as a precursor to war.  Mattis and Trump have also been at odds over NATO and Trump’s unwise decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.  Possibly one of the biggest issues Trump has with Mattis is that despite Trump’s numerous requests that Mattis appear on Fox and Friends in order to praise Trump’s agenda, Mattis has declined to do so.

And then there is the Bob Woodward book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, where Mattis is quoted as having likened Trump’s intellect to that of a “fifth or sixth grader”.  Well … sounds about right to me!

There have been other disagreements:

  • In June, Trump ordered Mattis to set up a Space Force over the defense secretary’s objections that such a move would weigh down an already cumbersome bureaucracy.

  • In July, Trump blew up a NATO summit meeting that Mr. Mattis and other national security officials had worked on for months. The Pentagon chief and others saved the final agreement only because they shielded it from the president and urged envoys to complete it before Trump arrived in Brussels.


  • In August, Trump undercut Mr. Mattis after a news conference at the Pentagon in which the defense secretary suggested that the United States military would resume war games on the Korean Peninsula. The exercises had been suspended — against Mr. Mattis’s advice — after Trump met with Kim Jong-un, in Singapore. “There is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games,” Trump tweeted.

MattisWhy should we care?  First, because the truth is that James Mattis is, in reality, often the only ‘adult in the room’.  The fate of Mattis is important because he is widely viewed — by foreign allies and adversaries but also by the traditional national security establishment in the United States — as the cabinet official standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.  Mattis is highly popular with the men and women of the American military. Most of the rest of his fans are people that Trump does not care about: Democrats, establishment Republicans and American allies.  It is for this reason that Mattis’ job is safe until after November 6th, for even Trump realizes that it is not likely to be a popular move.

Obviously, I am not a close personal friend of Mattis, and thus have not had a conversation with him of late, but my best guess is that if Trump fires Mattis, it will come as something of a relief to the often-beleaguered Defense Secretary.  The constant chaos, disagreement and denigration have to take a toll.  I have often said, I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Trump administration, and I think those with a conscience, those who are determined to ‘do the right thing’, must breathe a sigh of relief on their way out.  I hope the observers who predict Mattis’ termination are wrong, for this nation needs him, but I suspect they are right, for he is a good man, an intelligent man, and those are not traits that are valued in the White House today.  Time will tell.

Today in the ‘Alternative Universe’ …

A few headlines caught my eye today …

Trump’s FEMA chief under investigation over use of official cars

I have to ask the question:  Is there anybody in this administration who is not under investigation???  A quick 10-minute search turns up …

  • David Shulkin – Former United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs – spent more than $122,000 of department money on a 10-day trip to the UK and Denmark in July 2017—which involved only three and a half days of meetings. A government investigation into the trip found he had committed several “serious derelictions,” including bringing his wife on the trip at the taxpayer’s expense and improperly accepting free Wimbledon tickets.
  • Steve Mnuchin – Secretary of the Treasury – requested a government plane to take his wife on a honeymoon to Europe, and has come under fire for spending nearly $1 million on just seven trips.
  • Scott Pruitt – Former EPA Administrator – spent $168,000 on charter, military, and first class flights in his first year in office, despite EPA guidelines saying he should travel coach. The trips often included weekend layovers in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt splashed around $43,000 on a sound-proof phone booth in his office (to name only a few!).
  • Ryan Zinke – Secretary of the Interior – failing to keep proper records of his travel, been criticized for booking charter flights, and taken helicopters costing thousands of dollars when he could have taken a car. He spent $139,000 on new office doors (following a slew of embarrassing headlines, he says he has cut their cost by nearly half).
  • Ben Carson – Secretary of HUD – ordered a $31,000 dining set. The inspector general of Carson’s agency is also investigating whether Carson broke ethics rules by involving his son, the owner of a private equity firm, in government activities.
  • Tom Price – Former Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) – spent more than $1 million of taxpayer funds on his own travel in private jets.
  • Wilbur Ross – Secretary of Commerce – pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving his shipping interests, but he negotiates trade deals that could benefit some of his shipping interests.
  • Betsy DeVos – Secretary of Education – despite a potential conflict of interest, increased by as much as $10.5 million her investment in Neurocore, a company that offers brain performance training to children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, autism and depression.

And then there are the ones tagged by Robert Mueller in his investigation:

  • Paul Manafort
  • Michael Cohen
  • Michael Flynn
  • Rick Gates
  • George Papadopoulos
  • Jared Kushner
  • Stephen Miller
  • Don Trump, Jr.

And the list goes on … and on … where it ends, nobody knows!

Oh … and I left out another who, in addition to being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller …

  • Donald J. Trump – continues to earn money from his businesses. The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a fundraising mecca for special interest groups, foreign governments, Republicans and GOP-aligned groups. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort doubled its initiation fee after Trump’s election. Trump has also visited his properties more than 100 times since he was elected, according to news organizations that have tracked his travels.

All of this could explain why Walter Shaub, who resigned from his position as Director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said on his way out, “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

Do I recall somebody promising to “Drain the Swamp”???swamp-3


Trump pushes conspiracy theory about Puerto Rico death toll

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000. … This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

That’s right, folks … the death toll, reported by George Washington University, was cooked up by some unnamed, evil democrats who only want to make Trump look bad.  Does anybody else feel like just slapping this man across the face … over and over again?

The hue & cry was almost immediate, with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz saying, “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”.  Representative Bennie G. Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, called on Trump to resign. “The fact that the President will not take responsibility for his Administration’s failures and will not even recognize that thousands have perished shows us, once again, that he is not fit to serve as our President.”

Even Paul Ryan, while not directly mentioning Trump’s tweet, said “This was a function of a devastating storm hitting an isolated island, and that is really no one’s fault. The casualties mounted for a long time, and I have no reason to dispute those numbers.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker was quick to issue Trump’s claim a ‘Four Pinocchio’ rating.

4 pinocchios


Populist Donald Trump drains swamp with fundraiser where he profits off $70,000 pictures with him

According to The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, the cheapest entry price is $35,000 per couple, which entitles an attendee to dinner. A “photo opportunity” with Trump costs $70,000, while participating in a roundtable with the president requires $100,000.

Now I ask you … who in their right mind would pay $70,000 to have their picture taken with … a slimeball???  And by the way … the purpose of the fundraiser is his 2020 campaign.  Shoot me now.swamp-2


The fun just never stops, does it?  Have a great evening, folks!

Trump Picks More Losers …

The rollback of regulations that were meant to protect the environment and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord were bad enough.  The nomination of climate change deniers Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke to top positions in agencies whose primary functions pertained to protecting the environment added insult to injury.  And now, to ice the cake, Trump has appointed William Happer for the key job of “senior director for emerging technologies” at the National Security Council.Will-Happer-climate-science-denierWant to know what’s wrong with William Happer?  Happer is a “theoretical physicist”, whatever the heck that is, at Princeton, and is one of the most demented climate change deniers in existence.  Here are just a few of the things he has to say about climate science …

  • In Defense of Carbon Dioxide: “The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

  • “This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda.”


  • “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”  Say WHAT???


  • “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

So, just what qualifies him for this position?  Well, for many years, he was chairman of the board of the George C. Marshall Institute, which was funded in part by the Koch brothers to promote climate science denial.  He also writes and co-signs anti-science Wall Street Journal op-eds.

Will-HapperThe reality is that Happer knows little about emerging technologies or real threats to America’s national security but he does know a great deal about denying climate science. And, sadly, that appears to be the only qualification you need to join the Trump team these days.

Another Trump nominee, J. Steven Gardner, had been nominated to lead the Interior Department’s mining agency, but withdrew his nomination earlier this week.  Gardner was a long-time coal advocate who applauded the decision last year to allow coal companies to dump their toxic waste into streams.

According to Tom Morris of the Sierra Club …

“Gardner has shown time and again that he will try and fight anything that gets in the way of profits for coal executives — even if it means sacrificing the health of the families and communities …”Steven GardnerLike Zinke, Pruitt, Happer and all the rest in the current administration, he is a denier of climate science.  Some of his beliefs:

  • Mining is simply “accelerated erosion”
  • Mountaintop mining is good because it creates flat land
  • There is no such thing as renewable energy

Fortunately, Gardner has withdrawn his nomination in light of the stalled confirmation process, and certain requirements by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) with which he was unwilling to comply.  Good riddance, but who will be next?  No doubt another person who doesn’t believe in science, but rather puts corporate profits above preserving our lives.Patrick Chappatte / International New York Times

environment-toon-2